Fallow deer

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Fallow deer
Temporal range: Pleistocene–Recent
Dulmen, Wildpark -- 2018 -- 3762.jpg
European fallow deer (D. dama)
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Cervinae
Tribe: Cervini
Genus: Dama
Frisch, 1775
Type species
Cervus dama [1]
Linnaeus, 1758
Synonyms [2]
  • Dactyloceros Wagner, 1855
  • Machlis Kaup
  • Palmatus Lydekker, 1898
  • Platyceros Wagner, 1844
  • Platyceros Zimmermann, 1780

Fallow deer is the common name for species of deer in the genus Dama of subfamily Cervinae. [3]


The name fallow is derived from the deer's pale brown colour. The Latin word dāma or damma, used for roe deer, gazelles, and antelopes, lies at the root of the modern scientific name, as well as the German Damhirsch, French daim, Dutch damhert, and Italian daino. In Serbo-Croatian, the name for the fallow deer is jelen lopatar ("shovel deer"), due to the form of its antlers. The Modern Hebrew name of the fallow deer is yachmur (יחמור).

Taxonomy and evolution

The genus includes two extant species:

Extant species

Genus DamaFrisch, 1775 – two species
Common nameScientific name and subspeciesRangeSize and ecologyIUCN status and estimated population
European fallow deer

Fallow deer in field.jpg Fallow deer herd.jpg

Dama dama
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Confirmed native only to Turkey, but possibly native to the Italian Peninsula, the Balkans, and the island of Rhodes in Greece; introduced from Roman times onwards to the rest of Europe, and around the world in more recent times
Dama dama map.png



Persian fallow deer

Persian Fallow Deer 1.jpg Persian Fallow Deer Does.jpg

Dama mesopotamica
(Brooke, 1875)
Iran and Israel; once ranged throughout the Middle East and eastern Turkey
Dama mesopotamica history distribution in the 19 century.png



Some taxonomists classify the Persian fallow deer as a subspecies (D. d. mesopotamica), [1] while others, such as the IUCN, treat it as a separate species (D. mesopotamica). [4] Based on genetic evidence, Dama is considered to be closest living relative of the extinct genus Megaloceros . [5] The circumscription of the genus is uncertain, with some authors choosing to include taxa that are otherwise placed in the genus Pseudodama, which may be ancestral to Dama. [6]

The earliest species of Dama appeared around the Pliocene-Pleistocene boundary approximately 2.6 million years ago, [7] or around the beginning of the Middle Pleistocene approximately 0.8 million years ago, [8] depending on the species included in the genus. The relationships of most Dama species to each other and to other fossil deer are controversial, with no overall consensus on their relationships, aside the close relationship of D. clactoniana with the living Dama species. The earliest Dama species lack palmate (broad and flattened) antlers, with this trait only developing in D. pelleponesica, D. clactoniana, and the two living species. [6]

Extinct species, based on van der Made et al. 2023: [6]

Relationships of Dama to other deer species based on mitochondrial DNA. [11]


Hydropotes (water deer)

Capreolus (roe deer)

Alces (moose)

Rangifer (reindeer/caribou)

Odocoileini (brocket deer, mule deer, white tailed deer, etc)

Elaphodus (tufted deer)

Muntiacus (muntjacs)


Rucervus (Schomburgk's deer and barasingha)

Axis (chital, etc)

Dama (Fallow deer)

Megaloceros giganteus (Irish elk)

Elaphurus (Père David's deer)

Panolia (Eld's deer)

Rusa alfredi (Visayan spotted deer)

Rusa marianna (Philippine deer)

Rusa timorensis (Javan rusa)

Rusa unicolor (Sambar deer)

Cervus (red deer, elk, sika deer)

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Deer</span> Family of mammals

A deer or true deer is a hoofed ruminant ungulate of the family Cervidae. It is divided into subfamilies Cervinae and Capreolinae. Male deer of almost all species, as well as female reindeer, grow and shed new antlers each year. These antlers are bony extensions of the skull and are often used for combat between males.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">European fallow deer</span> Species of hooved mammal

The European fallow deer, also known as the common fallow deer or simply fallow deer, is a species of ruminant mammal belonging to the family Cervidae. It is historically native to Turkey and possibly the Italian Peninsula, Balkan Peninsula, and the island of Rhodes near Anatolia. Prehistorically native to and introduced into a larger portion of Europe, it has also been introduced to other regions in the world. It is one of two living species of fallow deer (Dama) alongside the Persian fallow deer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Irish elk</span> Extinct species of deer

The Irish elk, also called the giant deer or Irish deer, is an extinct species of deer in the genus Megaloceros and is one of the largest deer that ever lived. Its range extended across Eurasia during the Pleistocene, from Ireland to Lake Baikal in Siberia. The most recent remains of the species have been radiocarbon dated to about 7,700 years ago in western Russia. Its antlers, which can span 3.5 metres (11 ft) across are the largest known of any deer. It is not closely related to either living species called the elk, with it being widely agreed that its closest living relatives are fallow deer (Dama).

<i>Megaloceros</i> Extinct genus of deer

Megaloceros is an extinct genus of deer whose members lived throughout Eurasia from the Pleistocene to the early Holocene. The type and only undisputed member of the genus, Megaloceros giganteus, vernacularly known as the "Irish elk" or "giant deer", is also the best known. Fallow deer are thought to be their closest living relatives. Megaloceros is thought to be closely related to the East Asian genus Sinomegaceros, as well as possibly other extinct genera of "giant deer".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chital</span> Species of deer

The chital or cheetal, also known as the spotted deer, chital deer and axis deer, is a deer species native to the Indian subcontinent. It was first described and given a binomial name by German naturalist Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben in 1777. A moderate-sized deer, male chital reach 90 cm (35 in) and females 70 cm (28 in) at the shoulder. While males weigh 70–90 kg (150–200 lb), females weigh around 40–60 kg (88–132 lb). It is sexually dimorphic; males are larger than females, and antlers are present only on males. The upper parts are golden to rufous, completely covered in white spots. The abdomen, rump, throat, insides of legs, ears, and tail are all white. The antlers, three-pronged, are nearly 1 m long.

<i>Eucladoceros</i> Extinct genus of mammal

Eucladoceros is an extinct genus of large deer whose fossils have been discovered across Eurasia, from Europe to China, spanning from the Late Pliocene-Early Pleistocene. It is noted for its unusual comb-like or branching antlers.

<i>Cervus</i> Genus of deer and elk

Cervus is a genus of deer that primarily are native to Eurasia, although one species occurs in northern Africa and another in North America. In addition to the species presently placed in this genus, it has included a whole range of other species now commonly placed in other genera. Additionally, the species-level taxonomy is in a state of flux.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cervinae</span> Subfamily of deer

The Cervinae or the Old World deer, are a subfamily of deer. Alternatively, they are known as the plesiometacarpal deer, due to having lost the parts of the second and fifth metacarpal bones closest to the foot, distinct from the telemetacarpal deer of the Capreolinae.

<i>Candiacervus</i> Extinct genus of deer

Candiacervus is an extinct genus of deer native to Pleistocene Crete. Due to a lack of other herbivores, the genus underwent an adaptive radiation, filling niches occupied by other taxa on the mainland. Due to the small size of Crete, some species underwent insular dwarfism, the smallest species, C. ropalophorus, stood about 40 centimetres (16 in) at the shoulders when fully grown, while other species were relatively large and comparable in size to mainland deer species. Some species are noted for their peculiar, elongate club-shaped antlers, though other species have more normal antlers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carmel Hai-Bar Nature Reserve</span> Zoo in the Carmel mountains, Israel

Carmel Hai-Bar Nature Reserve is a 1,500-acre (610 ha) breeding and acclimation center administered by the Israel Nature Reserves and National Parks Authority, situated in the Carmel mountains in northwestern Israel, within the larger Mount Carmel National Park. The Carmel Hai-Bar is the Mediterranean climate counterpart of the Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve which operates in the desert. The University of Haifa is located next to the entrance to the park.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Persian fallow deer</span> Species of deer

The Persian fallow deer is a deer species once native to all of the Middle East, but currently only living in Iran and Israel. It was reintroduced in Israel. It has been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2008. After a captive breeding program, the population has rebounded from only a handful of deer in the 1960s to over a thousand individuals.

<i>Rucervus</i> Genus of mammals belonging to the deer, muntjac, roe deer, reindeer, and moose family of ruminants

Rucervus is a genus of deer from India, Nepal, Indochina, and the Chinese island of Hainan. The only extant representatives, the barasingha or swamp deer and Eld's deer, are threatened by habitat loss and hunting; another species, Schomburgk’s deer, went extinct in 1938. Deer species found within the genus Rucervus are characterized by a specific antler structure, where the basal ramification is often supplemented with an additional small prong, and the middle tine is never present. The crown tines are inserted on the posterior side of the beam and may be bifurcated or fused into a small palmation.

<i>Cervalces latifrons</i> Extinct species of deer

Cervalces latifrons, the broad-fronted moose, or the giant moose was a giant species of deer that inhabited the Europe and Asia during the Pleistocene epoch. It is thought to be the ancestor of the modern moose, as well as the extinct North American Cervalces scotti. It was considerably larger than living moose, placing it as one of the largest deer to have ever lived.

<i>Pseudodama</i> Extinct genus of deer

Pseudodama is an extinct genus of deer found in Europe during the Late Pliocene to Early Pleistocene. It has been suggested by some authors to be ancestral to Dama, with some authors choosing to subsume its species into that genus.

<i>Praemegaceros</i> Extinct genus of deer

Praemegaceros is an extinct genus of deer, known from the Pleistocene and Holocene of Western Eurasia. It contains the subgenera Praemegaceros,Orthogonoceros and Nesoleipoceros. It has sometimes been synonymised with Megaloceros and Megaceroides, however they have been found to be generically distinct.

<i>Megaceroides algericus</i> Extinct species of deer

Megaceroides algericus is an extinct species of deer known from the Late Pleistocene to the Holocene of North Africa. It is one of only two species of deer known to have been native to the African continent, alongside the Barbary stag, a subspecies of red deer. It is considered to be closely related to the giant deer species of Eurasia.

<i>Haploidoceros</i> Extinct genus of deer

Haploidoceros is an extinct genus of deer that lived in Europe during the Pleistocene. It contains a single species, Haploidoceros mediterraneus. It had a distribution limited to southern France and the Iberian peninsula.


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